Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meeting Brian

This fall, we're closing in on 8 years of marriage, 9 years together. Hardly seems possible, unless you do the math. It's a long time for people like us. We met in November 2001, which I can only remember if I remember when we got married: December 1, 2002. For a long time, I had a hard time remembering what year! When I finally realized the year we got married was the same backwards and forwards, I didn't forget anymore.

We met on the internet dating site known as Match.com. If you believe their hype, they have led to more relationships and more marriages than any other dating site out there. I guess that was true for us. Meeting guys on the internet was kind of a hobby of mine. On Thanksgiving 2001, home alone, I was sad because my family was out of town and the guy I had been seeing had issued a mercy invitation for dinner. I didn't go. I'd rather stay home, eat Jack in the Box and wallow in my misery.

I got an email from a hot guy in a Navy uniform. We exchanged a few messages within a few hours and then he sent his phone number. It probably seemed a little stalker-ish to call within 10 seconds. Oops. By the end, Brian decided to come and visit me from Virginia the next week as he began his separating leave from the Navy. I stewed and worried and fretted. Things were going so well on the phone, I was definitely afraid there was something very bad wrong with him. When he arrived, I refused to let him come pick me up at my house, instead insisting I would meet him where he was staying. I sat on the hood of my car and smoked a cigarette trying to settle my nerves. Didn't help. When I finally knocked, I had no idea that the guy, who would stand on a beach in four months and ask me to do him the honor of becoming his wife, was opening the door. All I knew is that the guy who I would later stand barefoot in the sand, on a Virgin Island and promise to love and honor, thought an introductory kiss was the way to go.

To say I was "freaking out" would be an understatement of gigantic proportions. I put my arm out and started backing up. Quick study that he was, he gave up the idea of kissing me and suggested we sit and have a cigarette which probably saved me from falling backward out of the window. Nothing but raw nerves, I chain-smoked, grinding the ashes into a fine powder. The few drinks I had at the restaurant loosened my tongue enough for me to go on, ad nauseum, about the last guy I had been dating. Way too much information. In fact, as I recall, I pretty much gave a complete dating history. I had also arranged for my best friend to, ahem, be at the bar we were going to next, where she and I whispered about him the whole time we played pool. We were as bad as a couple of high school girls. Except I was 24. And obviously, very mature. I do remember Brian telling me later that he was sad because we already had tickets for a Rockets game on Saturday and this was Thursday...and going terribly. Just down right awful. In fact, he told me he had "a headache" and I gave him some Tylenol.

But we had a moment. A point in time where we locked eyes over the pool table and like in a movie, everyone and everything else just disappeared. It was surreal. It was at that point the date finally started.

The next night, we had a dress-up night and had dinner in Galveston at Willie G's followed by drinks at a local watering hole, Big Daddy's. I just love Galveston. I love the beach, I love the water and I love how the wind is always blowing. Brian was looking very well turned out in his suit and I felt like Donna Summer's Hot Stuff in my black suit and high-heeled sandals. He opened my car door, lit my cigarettes, ordered for me, held my hand. I liked it. I felt safe and important. He thinks I fell in love with him on this night, but I didn't. At least I don't think I did.

At halftime, we stood outside the Compaq Center in the December wind, huddled together, smoking, talking and apparently, falling in love. We never went back inside. I remember the drive back, hearing Staind on the CD player. Anytime I hear "It's Been Awhile", I think back to that night.

I think I fell in love with him at that Rockets game. On our 3rd date. Except I wasn't sure and wouldn't say it until a month later because I was so damn scared. He said it 2 days later. I freaked out. Of course.

I loved that he drove a standard. He would send me flowers because it was Thursday and they would be these DIY arrangements that would arrive via FedEx. He would often pop into work and bring me Dr Peppers. I loved watching his smile go all the way to his eyes. I loved (and hated) that he would stand up to me. He probably loves and hates that about me, too. I love that he very readily gave me his heart. Honestly, I had his heart long before I wanted it. Our first Christmas, a month after we started dating, he gave me a pair of diamond earrings. I intend to give them to one of my daughters when she gets married. Brian had asked me one day what I thought about diamonds. As my mother's daughter, that's an easy answer. I'm for 'em. "But you only give diamonds if you're serious. Don't even ask about diamonds if you're not serious," is what I told him. He was serious.

My very favorite band is the Dave Matthews Band. My very favorite song of theirs is called "Two Step". Love.this.song. When Brian and I went to see them, I told myself that if they played that song, it meant we were destined to be together forever. They did and we eloped the following December to beautiful St. Thomas. Almost a year to the day. Under my wedding dress, I was barefoot in the sand. And it rained some. Good for fertility, they said.

And here we are, some 8-9 years later.

I love that man.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I'm Not Homeschooling

Putting Little People into school is not as easy as checking a box and it's over.

There was a time when I thought homeschooling was the perfect answer for my FEAR of exposing my children to God knows what at the junior prison they called a school. I can say with 100% certainty that I was operating out of a place of fear and a desire to keep bad things away from my kids. Certainly after all the work I put in getting them "trained" and on a schedule and obedient (just ask me how well that's working now) ...I did not want some stupid teacher (and other people's hellbound kids) messing up all my hard work. Homeschooling seemed the logical answer. I started having doubts soon after we moved to this area, 4 years ago. Some interesting discussions held on this blog about homeschooling during that time can be found HITHER, THITHER, and YON.

It felt like people who homeschooled viewed those who didn't as amoral, lazy, disobedient people who didn't really love their children very much at all to send them to the Public School Pit. And I couldn't understand it. I was trying to examine my motives and figure out what was going in my heart, in my brain. Homeschooling seemed like a measuring stick to judge how good a Christian someone was. And it began to rub me the wrong way. Homeschoolers seemed so sure they had found El Dorado, so to speak, and the rest of us were just too stupid to realize it. People didn't really seem believe that God could lead one family one way and another family another way.

I struggled deeply with trusting God with my children. Why couldn't he protect them at school the same way He could protect them everywhere else? Why didn't I trust Him? Oh, that was heavy on my heart.

Homeschooling seemed like a mark on a list of what I needed to do to ensure (insure?) godly kids. As I began to examine my heart and think about what the Lord wanted from me, homeschooling really had to exit the picture. My intents were not right.

Brian never saw homeschooling that way.

He has always been against the state. Period. He absolutely saw the school where Little People go to be filled with state-sanctioned tripe. His reasons never changed. Mine did. The more I thought about it, the more I felt burdened, drug down. I felt no peace, only guilt. I thought if I had to spend the next 20 years with these kids all day and all night...I honestly did not know what I might do. I felt locked into a life that I wasn't exactly sure I wanted.

Other people didn't just homeschool, they were inspired and on fire and from all appearances, doing it really, really well. Watching those families educate their children, it seemed like the very thing homeschooling was meant to be. I knew it wouldn't be done in the Welch household like that. Not only that, but I never had the desire. It was drudgery. I felt overwhelmed with a task that 1) I didn't want to do, and 2) I was completely ill-equipped to do. I found it completely and utterly boring. Mind-numbing.

There were fights. I wanted someone to say homeschooling wasn't so important that it was worth my sanity. My life. But he said "we would find a way." And I would die a little inside. It was a problem. Fine, I'd sigh. I'll do it. And things were fine again. Until the next time.

Lily turned 5 July of last year. I had really intended to homeschool.this.child. To get a plan. I ordered Handwriting Without Tears. I spent $200 on homeschooling books and resources. When I tried to read the material...I really just couldn't understand it. It was written for a freakin' teacher! I had a newborn. I had 2 other kids, plus a newborn, plus Lily. I had no idea how or when I was going to read the material and "figure it all out". And finally I decided, I just wasn't going to do it. That I just couldn't.

So we had a conversation.

And honestly, I really thought when I said I wasn't going to do it, I'd need to find a lawyer, too. I really honestly thought Brian was going to see that as the ultimate betrayal in our marriage.

Everyday, I had to get her to school by 740am. Pick her up at 245pm. Drag everyone else out, too. Make sure she had her lunch. Sign her stupid folder. Watch as they spent weeks on their colors. The alphabet. Numbers. Stuff she had known since she was 2 years old. Trying to figure out how to be involved at school with my 3 other children at home at the same time. It was not easy. But you know what? I don't regret it.

After my mom died, I was a wreck, and I didn't understand it. We made the decision for Lily to go to school, or rather, the decision was made before my mom died. If there had been homeschooling to deal with (something I absolutely did not want to do) at the same time I was dealing with these intense feelings of failure, worthlessness, etc., I don't know what I would have done. Literally. I was already thinking about shutting myself up in the garage. I was thinking about it a lot. I couldn't escape my life. A life that I was beginning to hate. And I desperately wanted to escape.

So, here we are...a week into another school year. I have a preschool on my staff now. Darcy and Reagan have class on Mondays And Wednesdays from 9-3 and Bubba can go as soon as he walks. I am really breathing a sigh of relief. I don't feel that pressure or that heavy, oppressive sense of failure right now. I feel really good. I don't feel like I want to permanently escape from my life. I can live with that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Draggin' It

Last week, I was rockin' it.

This week, I'm draggin' it.

All in all, I still feel like I'm doing pretty dang good. I'm just tired. Exhausted. Bone-weary. I've had several very late nights in a row and apparently, getting very little sleep takes its toll on the body. Yesterday, after a late night trip to the ER, I was "newborn mom" tired. Bedtime last night was 9pm. For me.

But I've had a busy week. After rocking the skating party, Meet the Teacher, Pei Wei and shopping last week, I didn't quite crash and burn, but by the time Friday and Saturday came along, I was fairly well interested in staying at home. I was so busy being totally awesome, that I didn't plan or execute my other duties very well and the results of that were very frustrating to me. I'm still playing catch up. With everyone starting school this week, and their extra activities, just organizing what time to load up and leave in the hopes of getting anywhere on time can be an interesting logistical challenge. At the very least I am keeping my skills sharp for when I return to the workforce as a highly-paid executive assistant. Now to only translate "successfully and consistently manages daily schedules of 4 entry-level executives" into language that employers will be impressed by!

Now here's an idea, just came to me. There are recruiting firms that help people exiting from the military match their military skills and training to civilian jobs. They help them find a job, give resume advice. The LucasGroup is one search firm who is a leader in that niche, among others. What if there were something similar for stay-at-home moms who have been out of the work force and are returning? I have 4 children, 3 of whom attend a school program at least 2 days per week and have extracurricular activities as well. Surely, I can manage the schedule of one guy. A guy who probably doesn't need me to brush his teeth or comb his hair and can probably get himself to work before he needs to be managed. I create, implement and have responsibility for our "annual budget" including accounts payable, accounts receivable and full charge bookkeeping of our 6-person "department". My "current job" requires proficiency in many other skills. Skills that transfer well to the work environment, such as materials procurement and mediation. I have a friend who could nurse a baby, bathe a toddler and talk on the phone, all at the same time. How effective could I be on the phone if I didn't have to take every important phone call in my closet? Anyway, it's just an idea.

Last night, I did find that the thread to which my sanity has been attached, was quickly coming unraveled. Apparently, I don't like to be interrupted multiple times by multiple people when I'm talking to others. I don't like it when I'm tapped, patted and touched a dozen times in lieu of being interrupted. I don't like it when people spill their water into their plate. I don't like it when I answer a question, only to have it either asked again verbatim or rephrased because the answer wasn't liked. I do not like it when my food is grabbed off my plate and thrown to the winds.

But I do like it when my husband comes home from being out of town and cooks breakfast for us. I do like it when Pinto goes to live somewhere else and I love.love.love doing car pool.

We won't be quite as busy the next few days. Brian will be home until Sunday. I have a scrapbooking gathering on Saturday. A couple of kids will be visiting the pulmonologist on Friday. I have things well in hand. Supposedly. I want to go through some stuff that has recently been given to me, and get it off my counter. I'd love to actually clean my house this weekend (not that I actually want to clean) but I like it when it's clean and the c-r-a-p is held at bay another few days. I have some quilt "manufacturing" I'd like to do this weekend or at least have it ready to work on next week. It requires "attention to detail", an area in which I happen to excel...according to my resume.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

She Who Must Be Obeyed

I am rockin' it.

I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. It's hard to tell people with a straight face that I don't "do" kids. That I am not a kid person. They roll their eyes to the heavens and sigh with disbelief that a woman who birthed 4 children in 5 years could not be a kid person. But it's true. I am actually a person who loves volunteering with nursing home residents.

Even though I am not a kid person, I'm rockin' it.

Yesterday, I took all 4 kids to Chick-Fil-A. By myself. And not through the drive-thru like I normally might. (And only if I were already forced to go out for another reason.) I went to Chick-Fil-A. On purpose. In fact, I had an invitation to go there. Someone actually called me up in the middle of the day, and asked me to do something. And for once, I thought, "What the hell? I can do that." So I did. There were friends there to help. But I also know a little secret. I could have handled it alone. I totally rocked lunch at Chick-Fil-A yesterday.

I am da bomb diggity.

Brian is already gone for a few days. There are many things on the agenda coming up while he is gone. Someone is going to have to rock it if it's going to be done. I just so happen to be in the rockin' business.

Tonight was a skating party for our Awana signup. I really did try to find a babysitter. I wondered how I would monitor my skaters and my Little People Not Skating. I wondered if I would be able to get the stroller in through the door! Oh, I really tried to find a babysitter. I knew that would solve my problem. But guess who rocked it? Three little skaters all falling down, probably all concussed, but I actually had things well under control. Well, except an out of control skater who was making mincemeat out of my flip-flop clad feet. (There is definitely some skin missing from my big toe.) And now, all Little People are in bed.

Tomorrow is Meet The Teacher night. I was hoping for a babysitter, but only could get one for a few hours in the afternoon. Can't rock my kids at the nursing home. Think of the stir that would cause. People might view me as a real person instead of the Shower Room Nazi. Can't have that. But I'm rocking the Teacher Night. After that, I'm going to brave some shopping in Fort Worth. With my kids. May even Rock.Out.Pei Wei. I am not scared.

Friday is another Meet the Teacher date for preschool, and I'm ready. Then more shopping and scrapbooking later at my house where I am going to be awesome. Because of all places, I can rock it at home. Saturday, I'm going to meet Brian at the outlet mall and finish up our shopping.

You may refer to me as She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I don't know why it's so hard. To accept help, I mean. I don't know why it feels so. . .uncomfortable. Even writing about it is hard. I'd rather just pretend that things are just fine and dandy and there are no problems. *insert big, fake smile here*

I don't think it's a control issue. I have realized about myself that I'm not the kind of person who has to be in control. I work well within the system that someone has to be in control and as a rule, I don't usually want it to be me. I do, however, want the people who are in control to know what-in-the-samhill they are doing.

But help, I don't like that stuff. And I had to accept tons of it this past weekend.

I had a tiny, minor, carefully scheduled, anesthetized procedure scheduled for a Friday morning. Generally, this would not be a problem. None at all. My husband works 4-10s. It would just be a matter of finding someone to watch the kids in the morning during this procedure. Except Brian was actually out of town working bringing us to Problem #1. As much as I wanted to, I could not drive myself to and from the procedure. Then Problems #2, 3, 4, 5. What to do with the kids?

Thankfully, gratefully, fabulously, friends stepped in and solved most of my problems for me, volunteering to take kids overnight, even Bubba Gump. One family even took The Three Sisters overnight and most of the next day, even though those 3 together can be a handful, even for us. Although, I think they were in the best possible hands. But I had no worries. I can't say how wonderful it was to come home, take my pain pills and mercifully go to sleep, with no worries. Sleeping in a drug-induced coma while my dad was cooking up a meal fit for a king. Peace and quiet all through the house. No worries!

Of course, it all worked out. Four different families, plus my dad were immediately involved in making sure it logistically worked out. But I felt very vulnerable, and that isn't something I relish. But I am grateful, even if I'm uncomfortable.

I'm grateful my husband has the opportunity to work out of town and make the extra overtime, to show his bosses he's ready for bigger and better things.

I'm grateful that my surgery has been completed and all is well in my body.

I'm grateful there are people who are willing to help me, even though I am reluctant to ask.

I'm grateful to be feeling much better today.

Today, I am just grateful. My heart is full.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Some Women Shouldn't Be Mothers

I recently heard this statement applied to some women I know. And in academic theory only, I could agree with this assessment. Those women made the lives of their children miserable or continue to do so now that their children are adults. They emotionally and physically torment their children even into adulthood. Hugs and kisses and "I love you's" are virtually non-existent. There are blatant cases of favoritism and intentional familial division. Those children continue to seek approval they will never receive, still bearing jagged scars. And this isn't even the tip of the iceberg.

But were those women so bad at mothering that their children didn't deserve to exist? Because that's what it boils down to. Is this "bad mothering" a generational thing? Because in the case of these women, they are all related. So if it is generational, how can it be stopped and reversed? It's easy to identify which women were born mothers. It seems easy to identify those traits in others. But in ourselves, how do we know which one we are? A friend of mine is fond of saying, "There's no guilt like mother guilt." We always feel bad about something. So, is there a checklist, some set of criteria to measure against? Does the kind of mother we have had play into it? Could mothering be considered a "nature vs. nurture" event? Apparently, there has been a study done on this.

On an seemingly unrelated note, I was also recently interested to find out that the Catholic Church basically teaches that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it violates the dignity of both spouses and the children created. Further, it was explained, many of the children created through IVF die or are frozen; some are even used for experimentation. I found this to be very, very interesting, although not an argument I hadn't heard before. I know of several children born to parents who tried conventional means for many years and were unsuccessful until in-vitro fertilization. Should those women have become mothers in that way? The Catholic Church says no. Does years of disappointment in bearing children make a better mother? Are they more likely to be patient with and thankful for their colicky baby who cries every night until 4am after waiting for years and years for the joy of a baby? Or, is it more likely they will feel guilty about any negative feelings they might have about their bundle of joy? Does that make them a bad mother? When does someone transition from a sad mother, an inexperienced mother, an undemonstrative mother to a bad mother?

It's been well said that there is no test or licensing required to become a parent, and there should be. But if there were, what would the criteria be and who would pass and fail that exam? Would it be a psychological exam delving into your wonderful/troubled/mediocre/mis-remembered/fill in the blank childhood? Or rather, would it be a skills test of bathing and dressing infants, administering first aid and potty training? The testing possibilities and subsequent opportunities for failure are endless.

Is mothering something that can be learned? Can someone in a cycle of generational "bad mothering" break that cycle? And if so, what would that look like? Where could she get help and not judgment? And frankly, whose opinion matters? Mine? My husband? My kids? Random people who hardly know me? And again, with what criteria? That my children are dressed, fed and at the doctor when sick? Who really knows? Who knows what goes on in the hearts of people?

I guess some women shouldn't be mothers. But who gets to decide?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Parenting Outside the Box

We used to be very punitive. Poor Lily. That child got a spanking if she took her barrette out of her hair. If she took off her shoes. If she resisted getting into the car seat. If she did anything we didn't want her to do. Anything. At the time, that seemed appropriate. We had an us versus them mentality. Children were to obey their parents. Clearly, we needed to punish for disobedience. So we did.

Then Darcy came along. And some point, it just felt like we were spanking her literally, all the time. She was so hard-headed. So unrepentant, it seemed, that we just kept on spanking her. Except what those books said would happen, didn't. She wasn't thankful for our correction. It didn't bring us closer. No way would that child lay still and "take" a spanking. It was UFC to give her a spanking. My heart started feeling burdened about the number of spankings we were giving and how they were not working. I started questioning the brand of parenting we had been using which was hard because we basically loved the results we had in one child, and couldn't figure out what we were doing wrong in another child.

What we didn't realize until later was the results we loved in Lily, were only the result of her deep-seated need to self-preserve. Not really what we intended at all. She didn't see the problem with disobeying Daddy's rules when he was at work because he "wouldn't know".

For years we have struggled with issues like this. Wanting to do the right thing, but really having a hard time knowing what that would be and what it would look like in this family. What a hard lesson for me to learn. Kids and families are not cookie cutouts. Even if my kids are (which they aren't), I most certainly am not. Most people would not describe me as warm or open or even sweet. I laughed recently when a friend actually admitted to telling someone else I was "sweet". She thinks I'm "closet sweet". Learning that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to ANY problem is something I'm trying to keep in mind when I hear people managing their lives in a way that's different from what I would do.

A couple of days ago, I managed a bedtime/naptime issue very differently than I ever have before. I still have children who need a nap, but are at an age where they can just play around for a few hours and then naptime is over and they didn't have to take one. Bedtime is a battle. Up and down, up and down. Thirsty, need to potty, wants hugs and kisses. A nearly imperceptible injury. Scared. Et cetera. We might handle this variety of ways. We might spank them and hope that would settle them down enough to go to sleep. Maybe we would make them stay in their bed until they actually took a nap. None of these solutions were ever consistently effective. But Sunday, I went another way. Instead of trying to keep them in bed, I let them out.

I told them we were going to stay up and not go to bed! When the other kids went to bed and they were able to stay up, it hardly seemed like a punishment. Seemed like fun! Then 11pm came and our little people started getting cranky and whiny and heavy-lidded. Every few minutes, I would ask in a loud voice, "You guys aren't going to sleep yet, are you? We can't have that!" We finally let Darcy go to bed at midnight and Lily at 1245am. People who don't want to go to sleep, don't have to! Surprisingly enough, naptime and bedtime on Monday went off without a hitch. It just took a small reminder from Mom that if they weren't ready to go to bed, they could always stay up with me. I like staying up late!

Consequences of actions seem to have a better result than punishment. It takes me out of the middle and makes them responsible for their actions. This can only help them as they get older. I'd much rather my children pay a smaller price now and learn lessons than to pay a higher price later.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Is It Only Wrong to Kill People?

I really want to do vile things to our dog. Things that will cause her to limp for a while, at the very least. I'm not really an animal lover anyway. I tolerate that smelly, poorly behaved mongrel because my husband wanted her and most of the kids seem to like her. But on this day, I have had it. I have had it up to my eyeballs. To the top of my 5'10" frame. To the sky even. I have had it. And it's certainly isn't as if this is the first incident where I wanted to cause bodily injury to her. Not.at.all. I just thought we were past this kind of behavior, that's all.

We got her September of last year when she was 5 months old. For 10 days, she was a great dog. We left her at home, in the house, when we would leave, and she never offered to chew a thing. She always pottied outside, never in the house. She was really a great dog.

Then we had to make a trip to Houston when my mother was ill and dying. We took her on a 6-hour car trip to leave her with my in-laws who kept her in a cage except for a few times a day, for 10 days. In their defense, Pinto had peed in the hall of their house a couple of times and I can see where that would be problem. But in Pinto's defense, their dog had made a toilet of that area long before Pinto arrived and no amount of cleaning could ever get the smell out. So she did what came naturally.

Apparently, Pinto didn't approve of being caged for 10 days straight. When we got home, it was no holds barred. Shoes, books, toys rendered unrecognizable by Pinto. I know that she chewed up at least a dozen pair of the girls' shoes. She would snap and bite at the girls while they were outside playing or knock them down. One afternoon, I returned to find Darcy's Bible turned into confetti on the living room floor along with several other books, that she drug out. She shat on my carpet. She literally chewed a hole in the sheetrock in our bedroom wall and chewed a bookshelf and an exterior door frame. When I put her outside, she barked and howled so much, neighbors we had never met came over to complain.

Instead of taking her directly to the pound, I had an idea. What if we brought in her cage and left her in it whenever we were going to bed or going to be gone? She would be totally unable to do anything but destroy her own bedding. I could live with that so that is what we did. Except I got tired of having her nasty cage in my kitchen. It looked...unkempt. But by the time I got to this point, the weather was cooler so it was safe to move her cage to the garage. As the weather got colder and colder, we started bringing her in at night and she seemed to do fine. Then the weather warmed up and the holes started.

Digging China-deep holes. Everywhere.

Then she had her "heat". I have to say, the only other dog I ever had was fixed early on and I had no idea that this happened. What a mess! I was so grossed out by the licking and the dripping. Blech. I searched the internet for cleaning concoctions. I scrubbed the floor until my fingers were raw and painful. This, in no way, endeared me to the dog. And then finally, the bloodbath was over. She didn't seem as exuberant after her heat. She seemed more docile. She was content to go outside and just lay out there in the grass or on the porch. She would stretch out on the carpet and she didn't seem to be snipping at the girls when they were outside playing. I could tolerate her again.

We left her at a kennel when we needed to travel to Beaumont for a funeral. That man kept several other dogs and Pinto had both an outside and indoor kennel and an opportunity to play outside with the other dogs. This time, when she came home, she didn't terrorize us with her alleged incontinence. She didn't tear up shoes or books. She seemed perfectly fine.

One day, I noticed she wasn't alone in the backyard. She had a friend visiting from the other side of the fence. As it turned out, Pinto was digging holes on this side of the fence that were so large, dogs from another yard were coming over to play. Any hole in the ground (or fence) that was patched or filled, Pinto would just dig another one. It's like the Montagues and the Capulets back there. I've actually wondered if we would have less problems if we got another dog for her to play with, but good grief! We have 4 kids. I don't even want this dog, much less another one.

And here we are, at present. Two weeks ago, Pinto chewed up pieces of Brian's rug. Brian's rug procured in Turkey, while in the Navy. A rug that is probably worth a couple thousand dollars here in the States. A rug Brian loves. I folded the rug up and put it in the closet so Brian wouldn't see it when he got home. I did chasten the dog appropriately, but not to the extent Brian suggested.

And now today, my Hidden Star quilt. I haven't been working on it for 2 years, but it's been 2 years since I started it. I only had the borders to do, and was unsure if I was going to need help. I managed to get the first layer of borders on without any assistance. The second layer is a "piano-key" border pieced together out of fabric already in the quilt that resembles piano keys. Those borders were prepared, but not sewn on yet. Except now, Pinto has ruined several pieces of the piano keys and there are a few holes in the border that is on the quilt. So, now to take apart the borders and replace the ruined sections with material I may not be able find or leave it and hope that it will all work out in the quilting? I'll have to trim off the mangled section of piano keys and prepare more and sew them together.

And I just don't want to do that!

I really want this dog to be someone else's problem besides mine! Although, before we send her to the knackers, I did have Brian bring her kennel back in the house. It's too hot for her to be in the garage. I'm not cruel, even though I'm furious and want her to live somewhere else. Anywhere else. What an impaired person I am...4 small children, and a freaking high maintenance whiny dog. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Anyone want a Catahoula?